Want a flatter stomach? Look in your glass—milk and soda are two major causes of tummy inflation. Approximately 65 percent of the human population has a reduced ability to digest lactose after infancy, which means that your glass of warm milk before bed may be the reason you wake up with too-tight pajamas. These are signs you might be lactose intolerant. And when it comes to soda, both regular and diet are belly busters both from the sweeteners used and the carbonation. Try eliminating these from your diet and see if it helps flatten your tummy.
Work on your personal image and self-confidence. Many people eat more food than they need to make them feel better, because others put them down, they feel lonely, or they don't like how they look. Don't do this! You are beautiful and amazing! When you accept that you are incredible just as you are, you'll find that you're okay with a little softness in the navel region.
Eat healthier. There's no real secret when it comes to having a flat-tummy friendly diet — you simply need to eat more healthy foods like fruit, veg, and whole grains, and cut down on junk food, like candy, chips and fast food. Just by making this simple switch, you'll see a world of difference to your stomach. However, it's not recommended that you go cold turkey — try to ease into a healthy diet by slowly, but consistently replacing the bad with the good. Here are some simple changes you can make:
As it turns out, there’s something to be said for being a creature of habit and eating the same foods day in and day out, especially if you’re on a mission to shrink your belly. When researchers looked at the diets of 6,814 people, they found that the more diverse one’s diet, the more likely one was to experience weight gain. In fact, those who ate the widest range of foods showed a 120 percent greater increase in waist circumference compared with those who had the least diversity.
Sit on floor with knees bent, feet flat and palms together in front of chest (prayer position). Lean back 45 degrees, extend arms forward, and lift legs with knees bent 90 degrees (balance on tailbone) to start. Slowly lower body until middle and lower back are on floor (head, shoulders, and legs remain lifted). Slowly return to start position to complete 1 rep. Do 10 to 12 reps.
But regardless of how tight your ab muscles are, they can't erase belly fat that lies above (subcutaneous) or below them (visceral fat). Those you'll have to burn off—and according to Olson's research, the best belly fat-melting method is Tabata intervals. Maximum-effort cardio intervals raise your level of adrenaline, the fight-or-flight hormone that's the secret sauce to burning fat.
WHAT'S GOING ON: If the only abs exercise you ever do is crunches, you'll never have a firm tummy, says Stephanie Hahn, a physical therapist at STAR Physical Therapy in Austin, TX. Crunches train your rectus abdominis (your "six-pack") to fold forward. That makes the muscles shorter, and if your transverse abdominals (the muscles that sit behind your rectus) aren't toned, you end up with what experts call a muscle imbalance—and a bulge in your lower belly. "Doing more crunches won't help," Hahn says.
Dr. Travis Stork is an Emmy®-nominated host of the award-winning talk show The Doctors, and a board-certified emergency medicine physician. He graduated Magna Cum Laude from Duke University as a member of Phi Beta Kappa and earned his M.D. with honors from the University of Virginia, being elected into the prestigious honor society of Alpha Omega Alpha for outstanding academic achievement. Based on his experiences as an ER physician, Dr. Stork is passionate about teaching people simple methods to prevent illness before it happens with the goal of maximizing time spent enjoying life while minimizing time spent as a "patient." Dr. Stork is a New York Times #1 bestselling author of “The Doctor’s Diet,” “The Doctor’s Diet Cookbook,” “The Lean Belly Prescription,” and “The Doctor Is In: A 7-Step Prescription for Optimal Wellness.” An avid outdoorsman, Dr. Stork is a devotee of mountain and road biking, whitewater kayaking and hiking with his loyal dog of nearly seventeen years, Nala.